COVID-19 Resources and Information
Following new measures from Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Learn More Indiana and 21st Century Scholars are adhering to guidance but will continue to maintain operations, including the financial aid support center, which Hoosiers can reach by calling 888-528-4719.
Below you will find resources, guidance and support regarding digital access, financial assistance and financial aid.
Student & Family Resources
During this unprecedented time, campuses are working to provide the best support possible for all students. If you do not have access to a computer or are having technological difficulties, reach out to your college’s IT department, Dean of Students or Student Advocate/Ombudsperson. Some campuses are providing loaned or rented laptop options. Others have emergency grants that are helping students purchase laptops.
College student: Some campuses have been able to provide students with hot spots or other forms of internet access. College students should reach out to their campus’ IT department, the Dean of Students or the Student Advocate/Ombudsperson.
K-12 student: Reach out to your school to see what options are available for you.
If your school or college/university does not have this option, several internet providers are offering free or discounted internet access to students during this time. Here are some examples:
- AT&T Wifi: att.com/help/covid-19/
- Comcast Wifi: corporate.comcast.com/covid-19
- Spectrum Wifi: spectrum.net/support/internet/coronavirus-covid-19-educational-internet-offer
- List of internet/phone services: pcworld.com/article/3532817/which-internet-providers-are-lifting-data-caps-during-the-coronavirus-and-which-arent.html
The state of Indiana has pulled together a list of food pantries, meal sites for individuals and families, and meals available to K-12 students. You can search for food assistance programs in your area here.
You may also be eligible for SNAP (food stamps). There are several regulations around college students receiving SNAP benefits, so it is best to contact the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) with questions
College student: We strongly recommend reaching out to the counseling center on your campus. Counselors there may be able to provide one-on-one sessions or group counseling options. If they can’t, they will provide you with resources to help ease these feelings.
K-12 student: We strongly recommend reaching out to your school counselor. They will provide you with resources to help ease these feelings.
College student: Speak with your professors, they can work with you to make sure you’re understanding the content. Consider speaking to your campus’ tutoring center for help with assignments. If you feel like you might need some additional support and accommodation, reach out to your campus’ disability services office.
K-12 student: Speak to your teachers and school counselor for resources and supports.
Below is a list of campus offices that can be helpful for you right now. These offices may have different names on your campus, but every campus has individuals that meet these needs. (Note: Some of these options may be closed while the campus is closed due to COVID-19. Please check with your institution before attempting to visit some of these resources, such as fitness centers and libraries).
- Academic Advisor: Upon arrival, each student is assigned an academic advisor. This advisor is an important resource to help students select their major(s), register for classes and stay on track for graduation. It is recommended to meet with advisors at least once a year, generally before registering for classes. By working closely with advisors, students are more likely achieve their educational goals in a timely manner.
- Academic Support and Tutoring Centers: Succeeding academically is one of the most important pieces of college success. Academic support and tutoring centers offer support and tutoring. Writing and math labs provide opportunities for students to have their homework and papers critiqued before the due date.
- Bursar: The bursar office processes all bills and payments for tuition and room/board. They can help you make a payment plan if you have an outstanding balance on your account. They also provide refunds to students who have a positive balance on their school accounts. Bursar offices are sometimes, but not always, connected to the financial aid office on campus.
- Career Center: Career centers offer guidance to students seeking employment during or after college. Whether students are looking for a summer internship or a full-time job, it’s important to use these resources. Services provided can include resume reviews, mock interview preparation and connecting students with employers. Campuses generally offer these services to current students for free, though there may be a small fee associated after graduation.
- Campus Activities Office: Campus activities offices are the hubs of campus involvement. Many times volunteer programs, student organizations and student government are housed in this space. Getting involved on campus is a great way to feel connected and also build your portfolio. Some activities do cost money, but this cost is generally discounted from what you would pay to participate on your own.
- Counseling Center: The counseling center (sometimes known as counseling and psychological services) offers students a place to take care of their mental and emotional health. Services provided by these centers range from group-based counseling to individual counseling to stress management classes. Most campuses offer this service for free for the first few visits and then charge a minimal fee for sessions over that amount.
- Disability Services: Disability services ensure that all students have equal access to services and opportunities throughout their college experience. Students who qualify for disability will be provided access to services such as interpretation, testing accommodations and tutoring resources.
- Financial Aid: Financial aid offices help you learn various ways to pay for your education. You can visit to learn more about your 21st Century Scholarship, other state and federal financial aid, scholarships, and federal and private student loan options. These offices help you make the best decisions in paying for college. Financial aid offices can also help you navigate any issues you may have with the FAFSA.
- Fitness Center: Fitness centers are an important resource to ensure that students are able to maintain physical health and relieve stress as they adjust to the academic demands of college. Fitness facilities often include weight training equipment, cardiovascular machines (such as treadmills and stationary bikes) and a variety of classes (such as Zumba or Pilates). Access to these centers is usually free for students, though the classes often cost a small extra fee.
- Library: Campus libraries are one of the most important resources to help college students succeed academically. Libraries have a variety of electronic and physical resources to aid in research and learning. The staff is available to help students find books, operate computers and explore topics related to projects and assignments. Libraries also provide students with a quiet, distraction-free environment to study or do homework.
- Medical Center: To help students maintain their physical and mental health, some colleges provide cost-effective medical services through an on-campus medical center. The centers offer a range of services such as primary care, specialty care and counseling. If a college has a medical center, students are often able to purchase health insurance through their school for an additional fee, or can opt to use their pre-existing health insurance to pay for the services.
- Multicultural Affairs/Diversity Office: Multicultural affairs and diversity offices on campuses work to promote an inclusive and socially responsible environment for students, faculty, and staff. These offices often provide programming around various communities on campus—such as race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. They also help to create safe spaces for students who are looking to connect with others who hold similar identities.
- Orientation: The transition from high school to college is often overwhelming, but an orientation program can help students feel more comfortable with the shift. Orientation is usually a day or weekend program where new students are able to learn their way around campus, create their first semester schedule and connect with other students. These programs may have a cost, particularly if they’re overnight, but fees include housing and meals.
We recommend you browse through out website for resources on college, career and cost. You can also explore our classroom materials page for activities to do at home. We’re also updating our Learn More Indiana blog regularly with college and career related resources.
If you have questions specific to k-12 education, we recommend reaching out to the Indiana Department of Education. Their COVID-19 page can be found here and their remote learning page can be found here.
You can find this information on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s website.
Financial Aid Policies and other FAQs
The Commission understands that students and families applying for financial aid for 2020-2021 may experience barriers to completing the FAFSA by the April 15 deadline. As such, in April, the Commission announced it would extend the state’s April 15 FAFSA deadline for students who file past the original deadline, however, limited funding was available on a first-come basis.
As of Monday, April 27th the Commission for Higher Education has reached its maximum allotment for additional financial aid dollars for FAFSA filers past the April 15 deadline for the Frank O’Bannon Grant and 21st Century Scholarship. Students are still encouraged to file the FAFSA if they have not done so to qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, state financial aid dollars are still be available for the state’s Next Level Jobs program.
Any student who failed to file the FAFSA by the April 15 deadline as a direct result of COVID-19 illness or disruption may submit an appeal to the Commission in ScholarTrack to waive the April 15 deadline. Students will need to explain in their appeal how they were unable to submit the FAFSA by the April 15 deadline, either due to a lack of access to the application or as a result of serious illness of the student or an immediate family member (student’s spouse, child, parent, guardian, grandparent or sibling).
Students and families who expect to have a lower income in 2020—due to unemployment, lay off or furlough caused by COVID-19 or other life circumstances—should contact their college’s financial aid office. Financial aid offices can make a professional judgement on a case-by-case basis to adjust your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to more accurately reflect your family’s financial status. Financial aid offices may request documentation to make a professional judgement. Please note, income benefits such as unemployment do count as income on the FAFSA.
With the 2020-21 school year beginning, families have questions about school options and the 21st Century Scholars program. Indiana law requires that students be enrolled in an accredited Indiana middle school or junior high school to enroll in the 21st Century Scholars Program while in 7th or 8th grade. Law also requires that students graduate from an accredited Indiana high school in order to be eligible for the 21st Century Scholarship after graduation.
If your current school corporation is offering online or virtual classes, your Scholar is still enrolled in that school. Nothing about Scholar enrollment or eligibility to receive the Scholarship will change.
If you choose to withdraw your Scholar from their current school, some online schools are still eligible for 21st Century Scholars. Indiana Connections Academy, Indiana Connections Career Academy, Indiana University High School, and Insight School are some eligible online schools. You can check with the Indiana Department of Education on their website inview.doe.in.gov to see if other online schools are considered an eligible Indiana school.
If you choose to homeschool without enrolling in an accredited Indiana online school, you will not be able to enroll your 7th or 8th grader in the program and already enrolled Scholars may be in jeopardy of losing their Scholarship.
If you are concerned that you will be unable to complete a course because you’ve been affected by COVID-19, reach out to your academic advisor to see what steps you can take. Academic advisors can guide you in the best course of action, which could include receiving an incomplete, withdrawing, requesting accommodation, signing up for summer courses, etc. Do not stop attending class, which could have long-lasting impacts on your academic standing with your institution and your ability to receive financial aid.
The Commission will waive up to 15 credit hours for students who used either the 21st Century Scholarship, Frank O’Bannon Grant, or Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship during spring 2020. These waived hours will be added to the Credit Bank once Spring 2020 credit completion data is reported. Students will not need to submit an appeal to receive the waived hours.
The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates $2 trillion in financial support for individuals, businesses, federal agencies, state and local governments, and educational provisions.
The CARES Act requires the United State Department of Education (USDOE) to suspend payments on most federal student loans through September 30, 2020. Suspended student loans will not accrue interest during this time. All suspended payments will count toward loan forgiveness programs such as the Public Service Loan forgiveness Program. Borrowers may elect to continue to make payments during the suspension period.
It is important to note that not all student loan payments are suspended. For example, Perkins Loans and private student loans are not part of the suspension. Further, the USDOE has until on or around April 11th to suspend payments. Students should check with their loan servicer before they stop making payments on any student loans.
If students are having trouble making payments or have a payment due soon, USDOE has directed all federal student loan servicers to temporarily stop requiring payments (a forbearance) from any borrower with a federally held loan if requested by the borrower. Students can request a forbearance for a period of at least 60 days as of March 13, 2020.
To request a forbearance/stop payment, borrowers should contact their federal student loan servicer online or by phone. To find out who their federal student loan servicer is or how to contact their federal student loan servicer, students should visit studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.
For detailed information, view the Commission’s summary of the federal CARES Act here.
We’ve got your back so you can move forward. Rapid Recovery for a Better Future is Indiana’s people-focused initiative providing resources and support for Hoosiers to secure education, training, as well as skills and career coaching, and increasing access to quality jobs. Federal funding through the CARES Act enables Indiana to temporarily expand the Next Level Jobs program by:
- Adding new and temporary training programs to the Workforce Ready Grant
- Expanding access to Hoosiers who have a two- or four-year degree
- Providing employers up to $100,000 for workforce training through the Employer Training Grant
In addition to workforce training, Rapid Recovery for a Better Future is also committed to helping Hoosiers take their next step in finding a job, securing emergency aid, childcare support or food assistance, Your Next Step starts here.
TEMPORARY CARES ACT EXPANSION REQUIREMENTS
Federal funding through the CARES Act enables Indiana to temporarily add certificate programs to the Workforce Ready Grant and expand grant eligibility to Hoosiers that meet the following criteria. These certificate programs and criteria will expire December 30, 2020 or earlier:
- Hoosiers with an Associate or Bachelor’s degree (higher level degree holders do not qualify)*
- Hoosiers that have exhausted their state financial aid eligibility
*Hoosiers who have an existing two- or four-year degree should speak to their training provider prior to enrolling in a program to ensure completion by the December 30, 2020 CARES Act deadline.
Financial aid recipients may contact the Commission’s support center at 888-528-4719 or at email@example.com with further questions.